Air Vanuatu to continue Port Vila flights

Air Vanuatu to continue Port Vila flights

Air Vanuatu says it will continue flights into Port Vila's Bauerfield Airport, despite a deteriorating runway.

Qantas and Air New Zealand have stopped flights into the airport and say the runway is dangerous, and Virgin Australia could be next to follow suit.

In a statement today, Air Vanuatu said it would continue operations into Port Vila's international airport and implement extra precautionary measures.

"The safety measures imposed by Air Vanuatu require daily 'sweeping' of the runway, plus regular inspections prior to and after take-off, new obstacle and runway surveys and 200m of runway to be marked at the end of runway 11 for urgent repair."

Runway "sweeping" involves dragging cleaning mats over the surface to trap and remove any foreign object debris from the runway.

It said the measures would ensure in the short-term that jet operations could continue to the airport.

Air New Zealand has expressed concerns the runway is falling apart and is worried bits of tarmac could be sucked into jet engines.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu (CAAV) says it is working with Air Vanuatu (AVL) to ensure the safety of the runway.

"While CAAV has been working with AVL on a continuous basis to deal with this situation, including applying appropriate repairs to patches while seeking avenues to have the whole runway resurfaced and/or repaired fully, this latest action by Air NZ has prompted respective authorities to increase their actions and exert more control on the situation," says CAAV director Joseph Niel.

He says Air Vanuatu will work on repairs where applicable and impose safety measures, including cautionary markings.

Asphalt will need to be brought in from New Zealand to ultimately fix the problem, but that could take at least two months.

Part of the reason the runway has deteriorated is due to the shambolic way in which the airport has been run. There have been a series of job losses in the past two years. The airport's CEO was sacked over claims of financial mismanagement and negligence just four months ago.

Air New Zealand's departure will serve as a wake-up call and hopefully prompt action when the new government resumes office.

3 News